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Cruises to Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas (Photo:Sorin Colac/Shutterstock)
Cabo San Lucas (Photo:Sorin Colac/Shutterstock)

About Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas is an anchor port for all cruises sailing on Mexico's Riviera and Sea of Cortez itineraries, but passengers are a small minority of the tourists who flock there. The heavily Americanized party town serves as one of the most popular beach escapes for Californians and other West Coasters who come here to let loose (spring break festivities are intense and not a proposition for the faint of heart). One of Cabo's major attractions is Cabo Wabo, a cantina owned by rocker Sammy Hagar, most famously of Van Halen. Rocks of a different sort -- El Arco, with its jagged points protruding from the Sea of Cortez, make more impressive photos.

Yet for those passing on the beer-pong tournaments and temporary tattoos, Cabo has a lot to offer. Located at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas -- together with its more elegant and much quieter sister town of San Jose del Cabo -- is an ideal spot for adventure-oriented pursuits. If conditions are right, the clear waters make for great snorkeling kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, parasailing, sailing and Jet Skiing. The Sea of Cortez is among the biologically richest areas in the world, with pods of whales that winter offshore; if you're here in season (late December through late March), a whale-watching trip is a must.

Cabo also has some of the best sportfishing in the world, and it is the quest for marlin that put the town on the map. After World War II and the advent of private planes, Hollywood royalty such as Bing Crosby and John Wayne arrived to fish. In the 1970s, a highway was built to connect California to Baja, and the travel industry began in earnest. Now, it's hard to open a celebrity magazine without seeing photos of A-listers lounging at the six-star resorts that have sprung up in "The Corridor," as the coastal stretch between the two cities is known.

One of the downsides for most cruise travelers: There's no cruise pier, so all ships must anchor and tender passengers to the port. That means you'll need to factor in extra time getting to and from your ship. Even odder is the fact that some ships only stop for half-day visits, which means that actual on-land time can be extremely limited (although excursion providers usually time their tours to meet the needs of cruisers). However, other ships spend two days in Cabo, allowing passengers to stay out until 9 p.m. before the ship maneuvers offshore to open casinos. If you're one of the lucky ones with a longer port time, greater Baja, including daytrips to Todos Santos, are within reach -- but can be expensive to coordinate independently.

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16 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Miami

16 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Falmouth, Cartagena ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Miami

16 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Grand Cayman, Aruba ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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11 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Quetzal ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Cartagena, Panama Canal ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Quetzal ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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5 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Ensenada ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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5 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Ensenada ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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16 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Panama City
Visiting:
Puerto Limon, Panama Canal ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Cartagena, Colon ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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17 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Huatulco ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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17 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Galveston
Visiting:
Santa Marta, Cartagena ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Cartagena, Colon ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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20 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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16 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
San Diego, Cabo San Lucas ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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17 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
San Francisco
Visiting:
San Diego, Cabo San Lucas ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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12 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Panama City
Visiting:
Panama Canal, Puntarenas ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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16 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Cartagena, Colon ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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Cruise Critic Favorite

15 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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15 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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Cruise Critic Favorite

108 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Southampton
Visiting:
Hamilton, Port Canaveral ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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16 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Grand Cayman, Cartagena ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Cabo San Lucas

Leaving:
New Orleans
Visiting:
Cozumel, Grand Cayman ...
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Cruise Line:
Disney Cruise Line
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Why go to Cabo San Lucas?

Pros:

Cabo offers plenty of beaches and shops, and whale and sea lion sightings are common

Cons:

This is a tender port that's often crowded with visitors from several ships, as well as local resorts

Bottom Line:

It's fun but also kitschy and commercialized; everyone tries to make a sale

Cabo San Lucas Cruise Port Facilities?

Ships tender in Cabo San Lucas Bay, near El Arco, or Land's End. Up to four ships can anchor offshore and tender passengers (about a 10-minute ride) to the marina, which is a pleasant 15-minute waterfront walk to the heart of Cabo San Lucas.

At the cruise pier end of the marina, you'll find excursion operators, water taxis, Senor Frogs, ATMs, souvenir stands and a Starbucks. Not shy about pursuing cruise ship business, the town is usually wide open at 8 a.m. (you can have breakfast at the marina or even go parasailing that early). The pelicans already are out and about, too.

Good to Know?

Vendors aren't shy in Cabo, and you'll find yourself repeatedly telling people "no gracias" as you stroll the marina or sit on Medano Beach (to avoid vendors on this packed stretch of sand, ask for a table or lounge chair farther back from the beach or buy a hotel beach pass). We also had to make sure that waiters wouldn't bring us drinks we hadn't ordered; check your bill closely before paying.

Getting Around?

By Foot: It's an easy 15-minute walk from the cruise ship pier to the main drag via the well-marked marina.

By Water Taxi: At the cruise pier, you can get a water taxi to take you to Medano Beach for about $10. If you want an up-close view of El Arco, a glass-bottom boat will take you out there, as well as to Pelican Bay, for about $20 for a party of four. Always negotiate your fee in advance.

By Taxi: Although the center of town is reachable by foot, the heat might make a taxi ride easier. Taxis, mostly of the sedan type (as opposed to safari cabs), line up at the marina.

By Car: For explorations beyond the city limits, your best bet is to rent a car; among the agencies with offices in town: National (877-567-3572 or 624-142-2424), Budget (U.S. 800-801-0365 or Mexico 800-002-8343) and Alamo (U.S. 866-365-3530, Mexico 800-821-6522 or 624-143-6060).

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

ATMs are widely accessible if you want to get Mexican pesos or U.S. dollars, which are accepted everywhere. If you are making an expensive purchase in a shop, you are best off paying with a credit card. Having dollar bills to pay for cab fares and trinkets is helpful.

Language?

Locals speak Spanish but English is also widely spoken, particularly in shops and tourist venues. There's a sizable American expat population, too.


Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination

  • 2018 Top-Rated Mexican Riviera Destinations
  • 2017 Top-Rated Mexican Riviera Destinations
  • 2016 Top-Rated Mexican Riviera, Central & South America Destinations

Cabo San Lucas Cruise Reviews

Grand Princess
Gina Piazza
Sail Date: Dec 2019
Cabo San Lucas is getting pretty commercial. I wish we had taken an excursion.... Read More
Regal Princess
Cozumel Jim
Sail Date: Feb 2020
Went to glass factory, Event center and San Jose del Cabo. Try the fish tacos!... Read More
Norwegian Gem
Casey2828
Sail Date: Jan 2020
We love Cabo but we didn't go off ship because it is a tendering port. We visit Cabo frequently.... Read More
Hallzee
Sail Date: Mar 2020
Our friends had been to Cabo a few times before, so we went ashore and did a local Cantina Crawl.... Read More
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